The article speaks about the great West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding. He was an artist. He was one of the 4 best fast bowlers West Indies had ever produced.
Michael Holding, popularly known as the whispering death, was an artist. Born in 1954, he became a threat for quality batsmen in the 1970s. He made a formidable pair of fast bowlers with Andy Roberts, another quality fast bowler of the 1970s.
Due to his height of 6 feet, 2 and half inches he was successful to generate pace and bounce in the wickets. He played only 60 tests and captured 249 wickets. He played 102 one-day internationals and took 142 wickets in them.
When West Indies was formidable team under the captainship of Clive Lloyd he was one of the brilliant bowlers who really terrified the batsmen with pace. His action was so quite and silent to the crease that the umpires named him whispering death.
It was not understandable for the batsmen that he would bowl the delivery very fast. His fastest delivery was around 97 to 98 miles per hour, at par with the fast bowlers of Australia namely Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.
But he is known around the world for the amount of accuracy in bowling. He hardly bowled no balls and wide balls. He was difficult to score against. At the same time he had huge control over swing.
West Indies entered the World Cup Finals 3 times in a row between 1975 to 1983. Michael Holding played in all those finals. West Indies became champion in 1975 and 1979 and lost to India in Prudential Cup Final in 1983.
In the 1970s, less number of test matches were played all around the world. So Michael Holding did not get an opportunity to play 100 tests. So his record don’t tell about the sharpness of bowling.
Clive Lloyd’s West Indies came to India in 1983 -84 to play 6 tickets. West Indies defeated India 3-0 in the series. Michael Holding opened the bowling with Malcom Marshall who was the fastest bowler at that time. In the test match in Kanpur, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, he became absolutely unplayable. India lost the Kolkata test getting innings defeat, and in Kanpur and Ahmedabad lost by huge margin of runs. Sunil Gavaskar was the only Indian batsmen to stand the pace and bounce of Holding and company. He scored century in Delhi test and scored double century in Madras test.
He was a Jamaican himself. In his later life he had created attention as a cricket commentator. Courtney Walsh who had captured more than 500 test wickets for West Indies was inspired by him in many ways.
When the best fast bowlers are compared in the world, the names of Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Richard Hadlee, Glenn Mcgrath’s name comes before Holding. But that was due to the record. As the 4 fast bowlers of West Indies destroyed the opponents together, individually bowlers did not get more than 3 wickets per innings. The same thing happened to Holding.
But there is no shadow of doubt, that due to control over pace and swing, Holding stands as one of the best 10 fast bowlers over the last 100 years international cricket.
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